Surviving Early Morning Flights with a Baby or Toddler
I was definitely dreading it, our first flight with baby. It was taking the shine off of our first family vacation. Not only had I read horror story after horror story about how she was going to scream the entire time and everyone would be shooting daggers at us, but I also had to drag my sweetly sleeping baby out of her crib a solid FIVE hours earlier than I usually would! I used to love early morning flights, too!
Why Book an Early Flight?
Booking a flight for 7:30 A.M. made sense at the time. We were always up then anyway. It was only after I had paid for everything that it occurred to me we had to be at the airport THREE hours before that. So we’d be leaving the house 45 minutes before that! We had to get up at what time? Was there any point in even going to bed?
Turns out, with that flight and our subsequent early morning flights at the crack of dawn, those were our easiest travel days. Now we have a system down pat and, if given the choice between an early flight or mid-afternoon, I’ll take early every time…
Tips for Early Morning Flights with Babies & Toddlers:
#1) Pyjamas vs. Clothes
Put them to bed in their travel clothes. Some just bring their kids on board in their pyjamas, but I’ll leave that to Paris Hilton (is she even around anymore?). I choose travel clothes for my kids that are comfortable, but still look like actual clothes.
#2) Rise and Shine
Get up earlier than everyone else, get dressed, and finish the packing. Load up the car and warm it up if necessary.
#3) Make the Transfer
About five minutes before you have to leave, lift child out of bed and straight into their coat and into the car. Make sure they have their stuffie, woobie, or blanket in hand. If they have a pacifier in bed, let them keep it.
The Airport and Beyond…
Some kids might actually go back to sleep for the ride to the airport (mine didn’t). But, I’ve found they’re so stunned at being up and out that they just kind of sit there in shock. Once at the airport, pack them into your stroller or carrier and have a drink (for them) handy. Yours can come later!
Don’t I need to change their diaper?
Usually you don’t have to worry about a diaper change or breakfast until you’re at the gate since they’d normally still be sleeping at that time anyway.
By the time you’re in the air, your baby may or may not doze off. But, depending on your destination, you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthy nap after lunch AND an early bedtime. By day two of your trip you should all be raring to go.
One of my fondest memories of our first trip is from the morning we first arrived. We’d landed and were all set up in our resort in Cuba by lunchtime, so we went to the poolside grill for a bite. Megan was sitting on my husband’s lap, eating toast soldiers. She fell asleep in his arms, mid-bite. I was able to change her out of her swimsuit and swimming diaper and into a regular diaper and onesie, wrap her in a blanket, and put her down on a lounger, all without waking her. She slept there for two hours, while we enjoyed café con leche by the pool.
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*Photo by Margaret Whiston on Unsplash
Last week, our flight to Florida left Toronto at 6:30am. Oy. We decided to stay at a hotel at the airport the night before, so that the girls (and us) could get the maximum amount of sleep in before leaving for the airport. We gained about an hour, plus were able to leave our car there for the duration of the trip. The whole thing cost only slightly more than the higher category park n fly, and the car was underground all week. We’ve done that flight several times before, and this time was definitely the most manageable.
Amazing tips – didn’t realize you could leave your car there in Toronto as well!
So long as it doesn’t break the bank, paying a bit extra to make your life easier is worth every cent.
I would take early moring anytime as well. The more tired they are the better chances of them sleeping on the flight out. Last time we flew out of Toronto with our 18 mth old was a 9 hour flight to Greece. The middle seats were great so she could stretch out and sleep for 7 of those hours. We live in the country so early departure from home (45 mins) and airport makes for a sleepy kid. She was out before take off (easier on the ears lol).
When going through security with powdered formula, will I be allowed to take a couple unopened purchased bottled waters to mix formula? I didn’t know if it was allowed because part of baby’s food or if I needed to take empty bottle and fill up once checked or purchase in the airport. I’m trying to be prepared for our trip and limit any possible hiccups because it’s enough traveling with a baby.
Hi there! You should be allowed since baby is technically exempt from the restrictions, but just in case (if it’s just regular bottled water) it’s probably easier to buy the water once you’ve cleared security.
These are good tips though my son never got the memo to go back to sleep on the ride to airport!
Great tips! Traveling with kids is never going to be easy but at that time I take my hat off to you
Necessity is the mother of invention. Right now I wish I had an early flight to look forward to!
I’m team “Put them in PJs” but I applaud your decorum of PJs that look like clothes!
My mother would have not approved of PJs in public!
You are so lucky you got that transfer done during lunch your first day in Cuba. My daughter always seemed to wake up WHENEVER we moved her. Great tips!
We were always pretty lucky with the transfers. EXCEPT when I got cocky about it 🙂
As much as I love the idea of early morning flights, they’re actually harder on me than they are on the kids, hahahaha! I never fall asleep the night before because I’m way too excited.
Thanks for your tip about picking comfortable travel clothes for my baby. That should make it so that she doesn’t wake up and can fall asleep throughout the whole flight. We’re flying to my parents soon and it’s going to be her first flight so I’m a bit nervous. Thanks for your tips I’ll make sure to follow them when I get to the airport.
Have a great trip!